Karnataka: Experts decry ‘unscientific’ Manusmriti, Pancha Bhuta proposals for NEP

It follows the recent dropping of "misinformation" by the state government after controversial changes made by the textbook review committee.  

BySaurav Kumar

Published Jul 12, 2022 | 12:20 PMUpdatedJul 25, 2022 | 2:14 PM

One of the claims in the paper said animal based foods are responsible for hormonal imbalance, regular consumption of egg and meat lead to lifestyle diseases. (Creative Commons)

The recent revelation of Karnataka’s proposal papers on the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has elicited outrage from the state intelligentsia.

The inclusion of Vedic mathematics, economics (Arthashastra), and biology (Pancha Bhoota) are a few of the suggestions proposed through the papers.

It follows the recent dropping of “misinformation” by the state government after controversial changes made by the textbook review committee.

Educationist Niranjanaradhya has openly urged experts of different fields to engage in a discussion to end unscientific imposition.

He told South First, “The present set of papers as a form of suggestion for the NEP is highly questionable because it lacks evidence of universal acceptance.”

He added: “The silence of experts across the state and country over irrational controversial claims through the NEP position papers is most shocking. Scientists, astronomers, mathematicians, and historians must speak out against irrational claims.”

The educationist also slammed the need to discuss Manusmriti in the guise of NEP proposals.

He was the chairperson of one of the position papers, titled Emerging Trends of Community Participation.

Noted literary scholar and Sahitya Academy Award winner G Ramakrishna also lamented the state’s NEP proposals.

He told South First, “To forcibly impose anti-science, irrational, and evidenceless propaganda through textbooks has remained a long-term agenda of the right-wing ecosystem. It is reflected in the proposal papers.”

The Karnataka government in October last year constituted a task force headed by former IAS officer Madan Gopal to implement the NEP.

A total of 26 committees were formed to prepare the position papers.

Countering allegations

Reacting to the ongoing debate over proposal papers, Madan Gopal told South First, “The papers that are out in the public domain are status papers, reflecting the state’s stand on different subjects.”

He explained, “We are questioning the origin of the theorem and not the content of it. Baudhāyana philosophy from India is the origin of the theory famously associated with Pythagoras. Likewise, smritis are the codification of the code of conduct. Manusmrti, being part of the dharma shastras, represents the way of life.”

He went on to add: “However, certain slokas of Manu are misinterpreted to claim that we propounded the caste system. The ideological projection of the past demeans the achievements of India.”

The former bureaucrat also claimed that NEP 2020 talks of an “Indic-centered approach”, and so do the status papers.

Controversial proposals

The most controversial of all proposals was dragging Smrti (Manusmrti) into unwarranted controversy.

The status papers said: “Even though Manusmṛti contains lofty ideals of public and societal good, it has become controversial to the extent that its very name solicits unwarranted bemoan from a section of our society.”

One of the suggestions of the paper claimed that the Pythagoras theorem and Sir Isaac Newton researching gravity because an apple gell on his head were fake.

The paragraph talked about “encouraging an attitude of questioning and not merely accepting whatever the textbooks say as infallible truth, with a clear foundation of how knowledge generation takes place and how fake news such as Pythagoras theorem, an apple falling on Newton’s head etc. are created and propagated.”

It may be noted that while many consider the Newton story apocryphal, a manuscript by William Stukeley on the scientist claims the incident to be actually true. A digital version of the manuscript has been made available by the UK’s Royal Society of Fellowship.

Meanwhile, another paragraph from the status papers suggested the trimming of sections on Greek mathematicians such as Pythagoras and Heron, and recommended the following of examples of Indian geometry.

The paper mentions that there is a need to shift and gaze from the Eurocentric history of science.